In light of the attack on Sept. 11, America has had the challenge of increasing its security measures without compromising the liberty and freedom of all Americans. One of these preparations following the attack is a concern about international students studying in the United States. International students account for over ten percent of the school population. These students hail from over 30 countries, including India, Pakistan, Chile, Nigeria, Sweden, Peru, France, Russia, and Jamaica, to name a few. University officials have expressed their fears that federal regulations governing international students may tighten as a result and acknowledge the devastating impact that these regulations could have on the rights of international students at present and in the future.
One way the United States is trying to prevent terrorism is by monitoring international students. They intend to do this through the creation of a database that would require schools to report changes about an international student’s status such as change of address and enrollment.
However, probably the most controversial change regarding international students is a decision to stop issuing student visas for the next six months. This “Closed Door Policy” would decrease cultural awareness, claims Scott Fuller, the International Student Advisor. He also feels that “the decision to limit visas now and in the future would have a devastating impact upon Lawrence University.” He went on to say that “this decision would only make the situation worse, as it would be exasperated by lack of cultural understanding.”
The number of international students that are allowed entry into the United States is small, a mere five percent, when compared with the total number of immigrants holding visiting visas that enter the United States. Restricting student visas will do little to improve America’s security, because the countries that have had past hostilities with America hardly send students to study in America. Countries such as Afghanistan sent 20 students to U.S. universities in the 1999-2000 academic year, while Iraq sent only 50 students.
Lawrence has always accepted students from the Middle East. One country that has been the focus of much concern is Pakistan. Azam Hak, a Lawrence student from Pakistan, returned to America after the attack and was harassed at the airport because of his citizenship. Regardless of his experience, Hak shares the sentiments of many Americans and would also like to see justice served. He is impressed with the conduct of the Lawrence Community and feels right at home.
To date there have not been any reported instances of hate crimes against any of Lawrence’s international students, according to Tetteh Otuteye, president of Lawrence International. The anticipated scrutiny that international students nationwide will face has not been openly demonstrated at Lawrence.
For more information go to www.cnn.com and click on U.S. News and Education.